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Board 7 chairman passes torch

Term limits may have forced Randy Peers to step down as chairman of Community Board 7 this week, but his descent was hardly a steep one. Peers, 39, will now hold the position of vice chairman.

It’s been a busy four-year stint for the East Flatbush-born Peers, the executive director of Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, a non-profit organization offering job training and education programs for youth and adults in Sunset Park and Bushwick.

During his tenure, three rezonings — Greenwood Heights and South Park Slope, east Windsor Terrace, and most recently, Sunset Park— have been completed. “I’m proud to say that with the exception of one half of Eighth Avenue, all of Community Board 7 has been rezoned,” said Peers. The rezonings aim to thwart overdevelopment and preserve the neighborhoods’ low rise character. “It’s not an easy process,” Peers noted. “It’s a long process that involves a lot of community activism, and I truly believe that we have protected these communities well into the future.”

Besides the rezonings, Peers pointed to the construction of Sunset Park’s high school as a major accomplishment, one that spanned decades to see through. For thirty years, Sunset Park was without its own highs school — one of only two school districts to have this ignominious distinction. He also cited the recently passed Sunset Park 197-a plan, a framework for future waterfront development, as a laudable achievement made possible only through real collaboration with interested parties, officials, and the board.

Disappointment came along the waterfront too, he recalled. Last year Manhattan-based Time Equities pulled out of a deal that would have seen it develop the massive Federal Building #2 in Sunset Park, as well as Bush Terminal buildings B and C. The firm said the economic downturn forced its hand.

The former chair has spent a total of 10 years at the board, and has previously worked as vice president of economic development at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. He currently lives in Windsor Terrace, a block from Borough President Marty Markowitz.

His most memorable experience as chairman? He weathered Sunset Park’s perfect storm of 2007. “I was chair during our once in a millennium that touched down here,” he said, recalling vividly the 6 a.m. Office of Emergency Management briefings in a trailer on 55th Street.

The board’s new chair is longtime member John Longobardi, whom Peers credited as a mentor. “I have no advice for Joe,” Peers joked.

It is up an individual community boards to determine if they want to impose term limits. Board 7’s executive members may serve two consecutive two-year terms in any one position.

Peers, who worked on City Councilmember Brad Lander’s successful election campaign, said he hasn’t ruled out steeping in the political arena, “If the appropriate opportunity” presents itself,” he said. “I am certainly a public servant.”

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